The West is a very competitive league. In reality, it is more competitive top to bottom than the East. At the top of the West sits the Oklahoma City Thunder. Granted, I am specifically referring to the team that is led with a healthy Russell Westbrook at point guard. When the Oklahoma City Thunder are at full force and healthy, they easily separate themselves just as the Miami Heat do in the East. Oklahoma City has one of the best offenses in the league. Additionally, they have two of the best scorers in the league to go aside Serge Ibaka and his ability to stuff shots at the rim. However,the competition has even increased in the West just over the course of this summer. The Los Angeles Clippers have attained Coach Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics and the Houston Rockets completed their front court by signing Dwight Howard last week. Even with the additions, the Thunder seem to have the edge. Below is a list of the 2 best teams that may give the Thunder a run for their money and also reason to why they may not be able to keep the Thunder from reaching the Finals this year.
The Clippers arguably made one of the best offseason moves this summer by getting Coach Doc Rivers. They didn’t just obtain any coach. He is easily one of the greatest coaches in all of basketball right now. He knows how to win and builds unbelievable relationships with his players. This ability comes from the fact that he has played the sport and knows the everyday emotions and feelings of the players. They also signed and locked up one of the best point guard in the NBA with Chris Paul. They lost free agent Chauncey Billups, who undoubtedly is great player but can’t avoid injury. They also went out and decided to upgrade from behind the arc as they signed Jared Dudley, J.J. Redick, and Reggie Bullock. They still have the electric Jamal Crawford off the bench and the athletic big men in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. With Doc steering this wheel, I believe the Clippers have a grand shot at finally reaching their expectations and participating in the Western Conference Finals. The only question for the Clippers is will they be able to adjust to playoff basketball when the time comes. Throughout the season, “Lob City” is a fan favorite around the country. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan practically live on Top 10 plays on various sports shows as they do something spectacular on almost a nightly basis. Then the playoffs roll around. Lob City somehow becomes Sob City. The dunks seem to cease to a stop. The Clippers never seem to be the aggressor. The Grizzlies smash-mouth style of play made the Clippers seem as if they didn’t even need to be apart of the series. The entire team began to fall apart as injuries occurred and rumors of internal conflicts surfaced. Can Doc potentially turn the playoff woes of the Clippers into a trip to the Finals?
2. San Antonio Spurs
I think a lot of people are sleeping on this team. This is most likely due to the fact that the Spurs are old. Well, their core players are aging and beyond their prime years. Let’s not forget that this team was literally a few free throws or one rebound away from an NBA Title. Tim Duncan proved to us all in the Finals that he still has the ability to be a big time player in this league. Tony Parker is by far the catalyst on the Spurs and will be ready to put his heart on the line for his team and Coach Gregg Popovich. He had a MVP playoffs performance and when healthy, is one of the best players the league has to offer. Manu Ginobli didn’t have his best playoffs performance,especially in the Finals. However, Ginobli still can contribute to a great season in San Antonio. Kawhi Leonard is the rising star and youth that the San Antonio Spurs hoped for when they drafted him. He had a coming out party in the Finals as he matched up well against LeBron James on defense and became a double-double machine. The Spurs also signed back Tiago Splitter and still have sharp shooters in Matt Bonner, Danny Green, and Gary Neal. The Spurs problem when facing a team such as the Thunder is the fact that their youth will overwhelm them. The Thunder and their speed and athleticism will destroy the hopes of another title run for the Spurs.
3. Golden State Warriors